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Mel Gibson’s Passion

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In a recent review of Mel Gibson’s Passion, Christopher Hitchens wrote in Slate:

“… think for a moment what will happen when Gibson reaps the residual and overseas profits from screenings of the film in Egypt and Syria, or in Eastern Europe, where things are a bit more raw. Who can believe that he did not anticipate, and intend, this result? Apparently seeking to curry favor, Gibson announced a few weeks ago that he had cut the scene where a Jewish mob yells for the blood of Jesus to descend on the heads of its children (a scene that occurs in only one of the four contradictory Gospels). Gibson lied. The scene is still there, spoken in Aramaic. Only the English subtitle has been removed. Propagandists in other countries will be able to subtitle it any way they like.”

Christopher Hitchens is correct when he worries about how Gibson’s Passion will be interpreted in countries where anti-Jewish hatred and belief in Jewish conspiracies are commonplace.

Take a look at this article from the Gulf News, a newspaper in the Middle East:


The author writes:
“I don’t know what Jews want Christians to do. Do they want them to eliminate the Gospels that narrate these historical facts, even when they interpret crucial notions of Christianity? … Or are the Jews asking Christians to clear them, in past and present, of responsibility for Jesus’ innocent blood and to solely hold the Romans guilty for his death? The fact is, Pilate, the representative of a cruel imperial power, was reluctant to crucify Jesus and finally washed his hands in front of the crowd to declare his innocence of Jesus’ blood.”

The author of the article takes the inherited guilt of all Jews as a fact of history. He notes that they were forgiven in 1965 by the Pope. I personally don’t believe that Jews needed to be forgiven, but the author of the Gulf News article questions whether they deserve to be forgiven. He writes: “forgiveness should be preceded by the acceptance of guilt, so had the Jews [who] repudiated the crimes against Jesus to deserve this forgiveness?”

This is how the movie is interpreted in the mainstream Arab media. Doesn’t it sound anti-Semitic to you?

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  • Kevin Miller

    So let me get this straight, Hitchens (and William Safire) think that when the movie is translated into, say, Cantonese, they’re going to find a Syriac-Cantonese translator to listen to the soundtrack and produce Chinese subtitles or dub it in Cantonese? Or, of course, they could just work from the English subtitles. In which case, removing the subtitles *would* affect what people around the world see.

  • Rich

    The Passion of the Christ’ Having Unexpected Impact: Film and Surrounding Debate Might Be Lessening Hostility Toward Jews, Says IJCR Poll:


  • Eric Olsen

    Rich, thanks and we get it – no need to post the link on every Passion post, since there are about 40 and all.

  • Rich

    Your comment well taken:):):)

    No, just the first three… Come on, give me some credit here, I’m not a spammer, too lazy for that…


  • Eric Olsen

    I was making light of the situation, and I agree that the movie’s extreme success and the lack of much obvious adverse reaction (thus far) has dulled much of the criticism. I’m sort of waiting to see what happens next.